Justin Peart, CMO/CIO Kingston21 Info…. 

Team Tessanne Chin Billboard at Norman Manley International Airport, Jamaica
Team Tessanne Chin Billboard at Norman Manley International Airport, Jamaica

It’s not the Olympics or World Championships, it’s not iconic multiple world record holder Usain Bolt or World/Olympic Champion Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce….. This time, it’s The Voice of Jamaican Songstress Tessanne “BreadnButta” Chin that has brought the entire country of Jamaica together, more emphatically Jamaicans all over the world together; special emphasis on the Jamaicans in the USA who can VOTE on The Voice. I have never witnessed such a deep connection between Jamaicans at home and Jamaicans in the USA. Really, this was way bigger than the occasional call from family in Jamaica for a Western Union money transfer. Even persons who have been out of touch for a long time contacted their friends and relatives in the USA coaxing them to vote for Tessanne Chin. Seriously, a friend of mine who had never watched The Voice or heard of Tessanne was contacted, and at first wondered if Tessanne Chin had started a new political party in Jamaica (never mind that most of us in the Jamaican Diaspora cannot vote in Jamaica’s elections). There is also the story of one lady living in Jamaica who even gave her email address and password to a friend in Miami so that he could vote on her behalf.

It took most Jamaicans a short while to realize that they could not vote due to telecommunications restrictions. The 876 area code and other non-American area codes had been blocked. Even though many Jamaicans use “American” social media” – neither Facebook nor Twitter would accept their votes. All IP (Internet Protocol) addresses outside of the USA and its territories were blocked. The only way Jamaicans could vote in Jamaica was by purchasing Tessanne’s songs on I-Tunes and despite economic challenges they have been buying her songs, driving them to the top of the I-Tune charts. Jamaicans don’t give up easily.

Voting Instructions circulated to Jamaicans in the USA
Voting Instructions circulated to Jamaicans in the USA

Time to implement Plan B: Contacting friends, associates and relatives in the USA and strongly encouraging them to vote. Team Tessanne  tirelessly reached out on a weekly basis to 1.037 million people of Jamaican descent living in the USA legally (numbers from the USA Census). Allow me to conservatively add another 20% to the official figure, given the illegal aliens among us. The extensive marketing campaign extended further to the wider Caribbean diaspora (never mind strained relations with Trinidad and Tobago) and to just about any American that we happened to know. Complementing those efforts were a number of weekly Tweet Parties/Happy Hours, notably at the Grand Cafe in Pembroke Pines.

There is no question that Tessanne Chin has one of the best voices on The Voice this season, but even with the 300+ million diverse population of the USA, there were many factors that would moderate the likelihood of Tessanne winning, and Jamaicans did not want to take a chance of that happening. Let’s face the facts, most people do not bother to vote while those who do vote any way they desire, and their decisions were not necessarily based on only voice quality.  This outstanding marketing effort of #Team Tessanne, #Team BreadandButta has been amazing. Tessanne Chin has had the entire country of Jamaican behind her, mostly voting vicariously.

Hot Bread n Butta T-Shirt
Hot Bread n Butta T-Shirt

This is not only Tessanne’s victory, this is a major win for the entire Jamaican community, thirsty for something good to celebrate, something positive to distract us from the multiple economic challenges, social adversity and wanton crime. According to one of the organizers of Team Tessanne, “people around the world need to learn more of the many positive aspects of Jamaican life instead of being brainwashed by the negative news reports.”